You're not going to find a link to this week's AP poll here.
It's still posted elsewhere on this site, and for the time being it's still what we're using as the "official" state rankings, but I'm not going to bring any further attention to it, because, frankly, it's a sham. (I feel a rant coming. Indulge me.)
Whatever credibility the poll had is sliding away due to the laziness and/or ignorance of a few of those graced with the right to cast a vote. And if by saying so publicly I'm violating some sacred creed to protect the journo-brotherhood, well, so be it. Because when careless mistakes repeatedly find their way into the poll, not only is it an embarrassment to those of us who take our jobs seriously, it also wastes our time. I'm certain I could find ways to better spend a Sunday afternoon than by calculating Swainsboro's average margin of victory.
Some of you have already noticed these mistakes. In the Class AAAA poll this week, Warner Robins -- that's 1-8 Warner Robins -- received nine votes. Undoubtedly, those were intended for Northside-Warner Robins, which has been No. 1 throughout the season, but is now tied at the top with Clarke Central. The voter either didn't know the difference or didn't care enough to get the vote right.
North Forsyth (5-4) also received a No. 1 vote in Class AAAAA -- presumably because they sit next to North Gwinnett alphabetically -- before the offending voter was alerted to the problem.
These errors could be dismissed as a one-time human error if voters haven't repeatedly mistaken Monroe for Monroe Area, Athens Christian for Athens Academy, Jefferson for Jefferson County, etc., etc., etc.
If it happens once, OK, no problem. Mistakes happen. But when it happens every week, it's more than a mistake. It's a full-blown apathy epidemic.
So what should we do? Skip the polls since they have no real bearing on anything anyway? Use the coaches' poll? Use the AJC's? Create our own?
It's all on the table, but for now, we're keeping the AP as our official source for the remainder and we'll revisit this issue next year. If you've got a preference, feel free to speak your mind here.
As always my votes (with honest-to-goodness research included free of charge) are listed below.
Rank, team, previous
1. Camden County (1)
2. North Gwinnett (2)
3. Stephenson (3)
4. McEachern (4)
5. Valdosta (6)
6. Etowah (7)
7. Brookwood (8)
8. South Gwinnett (10)
9. Woodstock (-)
10. Lowndes (5)
FINAL FOUR: Stephenson vs. North Gwinnett, Lowndes vs. Camden County
Lowndes gets the benefit of the weakest quadrant, and Camden County and North Gwinnett simply look better than everybody else.
But Stephenson's side could get interesting. A win in the first round could pit Stephenson against Colquitt County and Rush Propst's high-scoring offense (34.8 ppg) in the second round, while South Gwinnett and Etowah look like possible second-round foes and would face the Stephenson-Colquitt winner
1. Northside-Warner Robins (1)
2. Tucker (2)
3. Clarke Central (3)
4. Kell (4)
5. Flowery Branch (5)
6. Griffin (6)
7. Starr's Mill (7)
8. Chattahoochee (8)
9. Lovejoy (9)
10. Thomas County Central (10)
FINAL FOUR: Kell vs. Chattahoochee, Northside-Warner Robins vs. Clarke Central
Perhaps even more important than the Region 8-AAAA title that'll be on the line in Friday's Flowery Branch-Clarke Central tilt, is the opportunity to avoid a second-round matchup with Kell. That's who the second-place team from 8-AAAA faces. Right now, that looks like Flowery Branch, which could mean an early(ish) end to a great season for the Falcons. Kell, for the record, has beaten three top-10 teams from Class AAAAA this season.
1. Sandy Creek (1)
2. Peach County (2)
3. Cairo (3)
4. Baldwin (4)
5. Carrollton (5)
6. Gainesville (6)
7. Grady (7)
8. St. Pius X (8)
9. White County (9)
10. Burke County (10)
FINAL FOUR: Peach County vs. Sandy Creek, Cairo vs. Baldwin
Most interesting is the Gainesville vs. Baldwin matchup that could come in the quarterfinals, a game I feel is winnable for a Gainesville team that is playing very good football lately. The fact that the Red Elephants, who lost just about everybody from last year's state finalist team, are playing this week for the the Region 8-AAA title is impressive enough. If they end up back in the semifinals, it'll be nothing short of amazing.
1. Carver-Columbus (1)
2. Buford (2)
3. Calhoun (3)
4. Cook (4)
5. Swainsboro (5)
6. Jefferson County (6)
7. Elbert County (9)
8. Westminster (10)
9. North Oconee (8)
10. Fitzgerald (-)
FINAL FOUR: Carver vs. Calhoun, Buford vs. Swainsboro
If Buford can get to this point, it looks like they're in for a rematch with Carver, the team that handed the Wolves their only loss. But it won't be easy to reach the semifinals; a possible quarterfinal matchup with Cook could stand in the way.
1. Wesleyan (1)
2. Clinch County (2)
3. Wilcox County (3)
4. Johnson County (4)
5. Charlton County (5)
6. Lincoln County (6)
7. Eagle's Landing Christian (7)
8. Marion County (8)
9. Darlington (9)
10. Emanuel County Institute (10)
FINAL FOUR: Clinch County vs. Lincoln County, Charlton County vs. Johnson County
We could get a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in the quarterfinals, which, you may notice, I've got No. 2 slotted to win. There's a reason for that. Clinch County takes on Charlton County this week; if and when they win, they'll have proved more than worthy of No. 1 (they've also beaten Wilcox County) and will therefore be favored over Wesleyan.
Next season, I'd suggest considering an approach similar to what the GHSFD newsletter does, a composite ranking that combines each of the major polls (AP, AJC, GA Sports/Coaches, and the two computer rankings).
Considerably more work but it should minimize the voter error component that provoked the rant.